Union Bridge approves tax increase

May 24, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

The Union Bridge Town Council agreed to a 1-cent increase in the town's property tax rate last night when it approved a $398,500 budget for fiscal 1995.

The tax rate increase is the second that the Town Council has approved for Union Bridge in two years.

Last night's council meeting also served as the public hearing for residents to comment on the budget, which was introduced during the April 25 council session.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. proposed the tax increase as a way for the town to make up the money it will lose by levying less tax against Lehigh Portland Cement Co. as the result of two court decisions last year.

For years, the Union Bridge company paid property taxes to the town on $4 million worth of land and equipment, chiefly cement storage silos, that turned out to be tax exempt.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued a ruling to that effect last April, and the Court of Appeals let that decision stand by refusing to review it in July.

Last year, the town's tax rate increased to 72 cents from 68 cents to enable town officials to absorb the costs of municipal office construction and renovations to utilities.

The council also voted last night to let the Union Bridge Area Heritage Committee create a town museum in the Pump House room of the building attached to the Town Hall.

Under the agreement, the Heritage Committee will pay for all renovations to the 90-year-old building while the town pays for utilities.

On advice from Town Attorney John T. Maguire II, the council voted that the town will reserve the right to reclaim the property at any time should the need arise.

The Heritage Committee would have no claim to ask for compensation if they building is no longer used for a museum, Mr. Maguire said.

"We would hope that once the town designated the area for a town museum, it wouldn't plan anything else for that space," Heritage Committee Member Elaine Holmes told the council. "But it would be entirely up to the council."

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